Former St. Mary teacher arrested on porn charges

Gilroy
– A former St. Mary School teacher was arrested on child
pornography charges in Los Altos earlier this month.
By Lori Stuenkel

Gilroy – A former St. Mary School teacher was arrested on child pornography charges in Los Altos earlier this month.

David Joseph Welsh, 57, of San Jose, taught in Gilroy from 1989 until 1991, and continued teaching at private Catholic and secular middle schools in the South Bay until he turned himself in at the Santa Clara County jail March 8 on a misdemeanor charge of possessing child pornography.

Los Altos police found explicit photographs depicting a young female on his home computer that they seized, said Sgt. John Hughmanick .

Police began investigating Welsh, who most recently taught at North Star Academy in Redwood City, after he responded to an undercover officer posing as a 12-year-old girl in an Internet chat room, Hughmanick said. Police do not believe any students were victimized.

Welsh taught science to seventh- and eighth-graders, and seventh grade geometry at St. Mary School from Jan. 26, 1989 until August 1991, according to Linda Bearie, director of personnel for the Catholic Diocese of San Jose.

“None of us are aware of any problem that ever existed here,” Rev. Dan Derry said.

St. Mary Principal Christa Hanson declined to comment for this story.

Following his years at St. Mary, Welsh continued to teach junior high-level science at St. Clare School in Santa Clara until 1994, then at Holy Family in San Jose until 1995, Bearie said.

“He was released in February of 1995,” Bearie said. “He resigned mid-year and we accepted his resignation, and that’s the extent of the answer I can give you.”

The Gilroy Police Department has no record of any incidents involving Welsh, Sgt. Kurt Svardal said.

Monsignor Francis Cilia, vicar general of the San Jose Diocese, emphasized that all diocese employees are fingerprinted.

During the hiring process, all teachers undergo a background check, Bearie said. Depending on the process at the time Welsh was hired, he may have applied directly to St. Mary, or through the diocese first. The diocese checks teacher applicants’ former employers, educational transcripts, degrees, or credential information.

“We also require three professional references and three letters of recommendation,” Bearie said. “Once they’re offered the position, they are fingerprinted through the state of California – unless they have a credential, then they’ve already done that.”

During Welsh’s Internet chat with an undercover officer, which involved “sexually explicit exchanges,” Welsh allegedly bragged of a previous sexual encounter with another 12-year-old female, Sgt. Hughmanick said.

Welsh was hired in August 2003 to teach eighth-grade science at the academy but was fired in September 2004 after Los Altos police alerted the school district that he was under investigation, said John Baker, the human resources director for the Redwood City School District.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave your comments